During this weeks VUC call I was at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh PA. I was sitting monitoring some equipment in the Art Department, which is is physically located in the basement of the building at One Gateway Center.
There in the basement my cell phone was only able to get an EDGE connection to T-Mobile. Of course, CBS won’t let me on their network with my laptop or netbook. As a result, all week long I’ve been making use of my now aged Sprint 3G Mifi for general internet access.
Last week I installed the very latest version of Counterpath’s Bria Android Edition on my G2. To this point I’d only used it to make a couple of test calls around my office. This day I used it to join the ZipDX wideband conference bridge.
Several people have been in touch regarding my recent review of the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth headset. It seems that they would like to purchase the device but want to be certain that they are selecting the appropriate model. After all, why pay for the wideband capable model if you only application will be with a cell phone? Conversely, if you really want wideband capability you’d better get the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC V2.
Given that I still have the Plantronics Savi Go headset in my home office I felt that at least theoretically the Voyager Pro UC presented me with more opportunities for mobile applications. After all, the Savi Go is a Class 1 Bluetooth device with a one hundred foot range that covers my workspace completely. The Savi Go sounds good and I like the convertible wearing options. In general, I didn’t feel that I needed something better for office-bound activities.
Nonetheless, most people will buy one headset for use both in the home office and with their mobile phone. Thus I felt it only appropriate to explore the use of the Voyager Pro UC around my home office.
Preface: I’m taking a little different approach with this review. Plantronics offers the Voyager Pro headset in several versions; the Voyager Pro targets the common portable application accompanying mobile phones, while the Voyager Pro UC extends it reach to use with soft phones or Unified Communications (UC) clients on computers. Since these use cases might be considered separately I’ve decided to offer the review in two parts, one addressing each use case specifically.
While I have tried a number of Bluetooth headsets over the years, I’ve found that most are seriously disappointing. Until relatively recently I had simply given up on trying to find a Bluetooth headset that would meet my needs.
In the fall of 2009 Plantronics gave me a Savi Go Bluetooth headset to use in the presentation that I was developing for Astricon. Given the project at hand I had some very specific needs, including wideband audio capability to compliment a SIP soft phone. The new generation of cordless headsets targeting “Unified Communications” application seemed like a good match for my needs. “UC” implies wideband audio.
The more interesting thing is the fact that this new release of Skype For Android now supports calling over 3G/4G wireless service. Until this release Android devices were only allowed to do voice calling when on Wifi networks. The exception being Android devices offered by Verizon Wireless.
In truth I’ve made little use of Skype on my phone, at least to this point. Limiting the voice aspect to wifi really constrains its utility. While in NYC this week I allowed my G2 to update its Skype installation and did a few cursory experiments with the new release.
I was happy to hear that the new Skype client seems to support the latest SILK codec. Calling the Skype call testing service I heard both their outgoing message and my own voice back in very clear wideband audio. I may yet run some test signals across a Skype call to get some measurement of what I was hearing.
I was also happy to find that the Skype client supports the use of the Bluetooth headset with wideband capability. This is in marked contrast to the release of Counterpath’s Bria Android Edition, the SIP client that I currently run. It simply does not access the Bluetooth capability of the handset. I must admit that I am at least one release back in Bria Android Edition.
As this weekend I am working to complete a review of the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth headset I tried also it with Skype. The call was obviously wideband, very bright and cheerful sounding. I tried making calls both on my local wifi and T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. In both modes that calls sounded great. It will be interesting to see what happens when the phone falls back to its EDGE mode, outside of HSPA range.
It’s great that voice calling using Skype over 3G/4G is now more broadly available. I’m betting that causes a considerable uptick in the use of Skype on mobile devices.